How Many Dowels Per Tier?

Decorating By The_Sugar_Fairy Updated 5 May 2014 , 7:12am by Deb2013

The_Sugar_Fairy Posted 6 May 2010 , 6:52pm
post #1 of 16

My first wedding cake this weekend! So far so good. I covered the cakes with fondant today and that went really well. I'm so happy. I'm going to stack them tomorrow. (I definately want to transport it already stacked.) How many dowels would you recommend? I'm using 12", 10" and 8" rounds. I'm going to be using the Wilton hollow plastic ones. So how many should I put in the 12" and how many in the 10"? Thanks!

15 replies
cylstrial Posted 6 May 2010 , 7:45pm
post #2 of 16

I have never used the hollow plastic ones - but I have used dowel rods and bubble tea straws. I always use the same amount as the tier above it.

So I would use 12 dowels in the 12" cake. And then 10 dowels in the 10" cake.

But you will probably use less because the kind that you are using are going to be stronger and take up more space.

Good luck! Glad it's going well.

costumeczar Posted 6 May 2010 , 10:50pm
post #3 of 16

I use wooden dowels, and I'd only use about 6 in the 12" and 5 in the 10". For the plastic hollow ones, maybe 5 in the 12" and 3 or 4 in the 10"? If you put too many in your cake turns into swiss cheese and the lack of structure will tend to make them collapse more easily.

indydebi Posted 6 May 2010 , 11:22pm
post #4 of 16

costume is right about the swiss cheese effect. I've cut a wedding cake made by someone who used way too many dowels and it was a freakin' mess!!

For a cake that size, I use 4 wooden dowels in each tier. That's all you need. I don't know where this "one dowel per inch of cake" came from but I'll guarantee you it's overkill.

I used the wilton hollow plastic dowels when I had a 4 or 5 tier cake and I put 5 of the dowels in the bottom tier only.

Don't turn your cake into swiss cheese.

This is a prime example of why I encourage all cakers to stay and cut at least 2 or 3 of their wedding cakes per year, so they can see firsthand how their assembly method affects the cutting of the cake. It makes a difference. It really does.

BlakesCakes Posted 7 May 2010 , 3:59am
post #5 of 16

With the Wilton hollow plastic dowels, I use 1 dowel per 2 inches of cake supported (i.e. 4 dowels to support an 8 inch tier).

With the wooden dowels (and I very rarely use those anymore, except when supporting very small tiers), I was taught 1 per 1 inch supported. I haven't found that 6 wooden dowels under a 6" tier creates "swiss cheese"--I just like being able to cut and insert fewer when I use the plastic ones.

It's not fixed in stone. If you're using doubled up cake boards, or foam core boards, then less support will work, especially if the cake is heavy.

HTH
Rae

PinkZiab Posted 7 May 2010 , 3:53pm
post #6 of 16

I use wooden dowels and never put more than 6 in any tier (and less in the smaller tiers, but no less than 3)... the more holes you poke in the cake, the more you are compromising the structure. 6 well-space dowels (and one center post) are all that any tier will ever need.

mamawrobin Posted 7 May 2010 , 4:47pm
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkZiab

I use wooden dowels and never put more than 6 in any tier (and less in the smaller tiers, but no less than 3)... the more holes you poke in the cake, the more you are compromising the structure. 6 well-space dowels (and one center post) are all that any tier will ever need.




I agree. The less holes you have to poke in a cake the better. thumbs_up.gif

PinkZiab Posted 7 May 2010 , 5:15pm
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkZiab

6 well-space dowels (and one center post) are all that any tier will ever need.




Just to clarify, when I wrote the above I was referring to standard stacked cakes, not any sort of special stacking arrangement or tilted tiers or anything where the layout and number of dowels needs to be determined on a cake-by-cake basis.

vgcea Posted 28 May 2013 , 10:34pm
post #9 of 16

ABumping this thread. Anyone tried a smaller ring of straws within the first ring of dowels/straws or a couple of diagonally placed straws within that ring for large bottom tiers-- 14 inches and up?

leah_s Posted 28 May 2013 , 11:04pm
post #10 of 16

I use SPS - 4 legs per tier.

vgcea Posted 29 May 2013 , 2:10am
post #11 of 16

AThanks Leah. I am considering SPS as an option but I would like to have other options too if for whatever reason I cannot get my hands on some SPS.

CWR41 Posted 29 May 2013 , 4:30am
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by vgcea 

Bumping this thread. Anyone tried a smaller ring of straws within the first ring of dowels/straws or a couple of diagonally placed straws within that ring for large bottom tiers-- 14 inches and up?


Diagonal straws cannot provide support.  What's the purpose?

 

Using too many rings of dowels/straws perforates cake allowing it to fall apart along the perforations.

vgcea Posted 29 May 2013 , 5:10am
post #13 of 16

ADiagonal straws cannot provide support.  What's the purpose?

Using too many rings of dowels/straws perforates cake allowing it to fall apart along the perforations.

Yes they would; not inserted diagonally, that would make no sense. Inserted in a diagonal pattern. Think of a circle with an "x" within. This is how I see it in my mind.

Say a 14 inch base tier, with a 12 inch tier on top. The straws would be inserted 1 inch inside that 12 inch circumference making an 11 inch ring of straws. Next tier on top of the 12 would be a 10 inch tier with a 9 inch ring of straws. The entire curcumference of that 10 inch tier is lying completely inside the 11 inch ring of supporting straws in the 14 inch tier. The looking at a cross section of the tiers, the straws would have a pyramid arrangement with a majority of the 'work' within that 11 inch ring in the base tier.

I____I ->7 inc ring I_______I -> 9 inch ring I __________ I -> 11 inch ring (the weight of upper tiers is still inside this ring). If the board fails, all that weight is fully displaced down within a ring of soft cake.

The board (which is not rigid or attached as in SPS and completely dependent on the cake for side-ways/achoring support) is essentially the only thing 'holding' the weight. As more tiers are piled on the weight gets centralized so that essentially, save for the board, all the weight of the upper tiers lies inside that 11 inch ring. I'm thinking having some vertically inserted straws in an X pattern within the 11 inch ring of straws means something in the center is helping to hold that increasingly centralized weight as narrower tiers are piled on. I saw a Ron Ben Israel photo with something a while ago. Can't seem to find it anymore.

This is the picture in my mind:

I__ I__I I__ I __ I __I I___I___I___I__I

My concern though is the potential for the swiss cheese effect (more pronounced with dowels which is why I prefer straws) since as I mentioned earlier, the cake is the only sources of anchoring/horizontal support for the straws.

Hope this post made sense.

vgcea Posted 29 May 2013 , 5:28am
post #14 of 16

AThe editor is messing with my stick diagrams. They're more like tiers. If you try to "quote" my post, it reverts to how I intended it to look. Hopefully it'll do this on your browser.

katecupcake Posted 3 Apr 2014 , 6:27pm
post #15 of 16

Hi, 

 

I've only just seen this post, I always use www.bakinit.com for stacking cake infomation. They have a calculator called cake stacker and it comes with a how to guide for how many dowels you need and where to place them. It's been a brilliant tool for me, being a hobby baker I don't know all the tricks of the trade so this site is brilliant. 

Deb2013 Posted 5 May 2014 , 7:12am
post #16 of 16

The above link didn't work (the 'g' was missing). Try this: www.bakingit.com

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